Alf Ventress – William Simons

From ‘Where No Vultures Fly’  released in 1952 and filmed in East Africa to ‘Heartbeat’ on the North Yorkshire Moors, William Simons the actor famous for playing Alf Ventress for 18 years had been a successful actor on screen throughout the intervening years.

William Simons

William Simons with Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan – Where No Vultures Fly


William Simons with Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan – Where No Vultures Fly

Where No Vultures Fly was particularly impressive being filmed in that wonderful Technicolor process and with such African locations and beautiful clear blue skies this just added to its charm. Apparently the newly released DVD which has been digitally remastered is equally stunning when viewed. It was this aspect that made this film so popular at the Box Office – and also of course it was chosen as the Royal Premier of 1952

A sequel to this ‘West of Zanzibar’ was released in 1954 with, again Anthony Steel but this time Sheila Sim played his wife – William Simons also starred.

When you look back at his career, it seems that he was never out of work from 1952 right up to the end of ‘Heartbeat’ in 2011. In fact although he appeared as Alf Ventress in 355 episodes, he was also in The Royal which was a spin-off show – and very good too – in fact he was in 6 of these episodes, but he had been in Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Inspector Alleyn and many many more.

Alf Ventress

His portrayal of Alf Ventress was perfect. We learned so m uch about Alf over the years but although Mrs Ventress his wife was often referred to, she never appeared much like Captain Mainwairing’s wife in Dad’s Army.  When referring to his wife he always said ‘Mrs Ventress’ although she did seem to be a formidable woman or so we imagined.   I well remember one episode when there was a dramatic climax to the story and crooks had been cornered along with Alf in a farmyard. There was a lot of shooting and when it was all over his colleagues feared for Alf’s safety but he emerged from a farm building unscathed. When asked how he had evaded the gunman, Alf said that ‘My Commando training and experience in the War had taught me how to hide from gun fire’ then added ‘ and 30 years of marriage to Mrs. Ventress has taught me when to lie low’

Brilliant lines, I thought – and perfectly delivered by Alf

Only last September 2018, we heard that another ‘Heartbeat’ regular Peter Benson who played Bernie Scripps had died. He had played in 235 episodes and one for The Royal.

Alf Ventress 2


A publicity Still – William Simons as Alf Ventress – in real life William was a non smoker and herbal cigarettes were used when filming.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (6)

6 Responses to “Alf Ventress – William Simons”

  1. David Rayner says:

    William Simons has passed away aged 79. News released on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019.

    • Movieman says:

      David, Yes he has I am sad to say. We watch him each week night at 6 pm on ITV3 in Heartbeat – he was very nearly in all the episodes. He did have a very long and busy and varied career in so many things. To virtually start with a film which was the Royal Command Performance one and which involved living in Kenya for many months in 1951 right up to Heartbeat. Apparently a nice friendly man. Neil

  2. David Rayner says:

    I have a charming full page photo of him in a scene from WHERE NO VULTURES FLY with a tame mongoose on his left shoulder in an early 1950s edition of ‘The Boys and Girls CINEMA CLUBS Annual’. Rest In Peace, Simon.

    • Movieman says:

      David. I used that picture of William Simons on this Blog in a post on ‘Where No Vultures Fly’ some time ago. It is a very nice picture I agree. Neil

  3. David Rayner says:

    Ah, I misread the caption under the photo. It was, of course, taken while he was making ‘West of Zanzibar’ and not ‘Where No Vultures Fly’.


    • Movieman says:

      He must have spent a fair time in Kenya during that period. I suspect he would have missed the Coronation. Neil

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